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Above: Lake Geneva, Switzerland. At Montreux.

Fodderize v.t. 1. To break down individual components; to make fungible; to disregard difference; to render one easily substituted for another 2. To impose sub-quality goods or services upon, with little recourse 3. To cap role choices, hinder access to resources regardless of merit, and so avoid competition 4. To manage perception by propaganda-spin techniques, while concealing dispositive facts 5. To manipulate, lure, exploit, deceive

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Sanctions Are Decisive Action. Engaged Indirection Plus Strategic Arming. From Liddell Hart to Obama.


Telephone, Avenches, Switzerland

Ring ring/ Liddell Hart to Obama. Stay the course. Putin on the loose? Loose more sanctions. Attack the economic and any other entrenched psychological balance first. Is that weakness?  No, it is strength; and wisdom. Add strategic arming in modern ways, and an enemy's behavior may modify before overt force is needed.  Opponents are already using this Liddell Hart approach to their advantage against the West, see http://newsweekpakistan.com/how-the-taliban-are-winning/.  It has been noticed as effective, even with Hart's early cynical view of war's solving the problem of surplus civilians, thus hard to unseat as a tactic, see http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/21/the-way-we-fight-max-boot-s-invisible-armies.html

Context:  A president. A president pursuing change in an opponent's behavior, by  a) focused indirection, combined with  b) measured arming in contemporary ways, and  c) sanctions; instead of puffing or attacking first and figuring out what to do with "victory" later. Ignoring history, some say that we need decisive action, meaning overt and immediate forceplay as the (weak) endgame, heads swiveling to the past and what, in their own experience, used to work.

Or did it?

WWII soldiers. Uncle Don's collection.

What next:

1.  Examine the usual suspects in argument:. Opponents of "mere" sanctions ask, Which way is this president going? We have paid for armies! Weapons!  We must brandish! Indirection is weak. Man up!  Holding cards close to chest is aloof, self-centered. Preserving options, holding open exit ramps both sides. Spineless. Fox has fits.  Discomfort when absolutes are not imposed or imposable.

They forget that we started the first Gulf War using appropriate analyses, see http://www.mindef.gov.sg/safti/pointer/back/journals/1998/Vol24_1/6.htm


Then the analyzing stopped; so we have to backtrack.

2.  Explore: What supports the idea of focused indirection, and preserving options, measured arming, and sanctions, rather than our overt bluster and war.

a. Some short answers:
  •  Indirection has been the soundest military and political policy in history for long term stability over the long term, to the consternation of bombardiers and other direct assaulters of any age. 
  • Combine the measured indirection with actions designed to undermine the opponent's morale and supply, and military and political goals may be accomplished while minimizing the need for confrontive battles. 
  • The religious arena parallels the instability of the political-military.  In the religious arena, the reversion of Christianity to brute force,instead of voluntary following of a way of life, to lock in converts and conformity to an institutional ideology, resulted in Inquisitions, religious wars, sectarianism, that continues today.
Read The Strategy of Indirect Approach at https://archive.org/details/strategyofindire035126mbp/.  Look at pages 4-5, for example, in Introduction, pages 1-6, 'History as Practical Experience.'
"More and more clearly has the fact emerged that a direct approach to one's mental object, or physical objective, along 'the line of natural expectation' for the opponent, has ever tended to, and usually produced, negative results.*****"
Continuing by summary at pages 4-6, to attack on the line of natural expectation is more likely to firm up the enemy's resolve and cohesion, and resistance. Accordingly, mere force and resources are not enough to bring victory.  A victor must also, and even more importantly, destabilize morale, control, and supply in advance of the application of force, if force is indeed needed. And unbalaning comes through, yes, sanctions as a primary tool, timely and effectively applied.

b.  And a longer one.
 
Good ideas, like the effectiveness of indirection combined with measured destabilizing, get shelved because of lack of glamor, no sound bites, no film clips, and of time passing and disinterest when emergencies fade. As on Morning Joe, see how long by the clock you have to wait before someone parrots talking points. Click away immediately/

 The fading of an idea, such as the value of indirection instead of confrontation, does not necessarily signify lack of merit. It may reflect the self-interest of the commentators: Those who limit their wisdom to their own experience ask, What do we do with ourselves, our sense of worth, what of our jobs, if war is no longer macho?

And the mentally coralled head talkers will never let that happen. Is that so? Their identity and future as candicates make them bound like little feet. Listen to them: Polls support this, polls support that. Is this so, instead: that polls measure only the effectiveness of a spun partisan message repeated until absorbed by the vulnerable, not necessarily an assessed merit of idea.  Do polls merely serve the man currently balancing on top?


Salzburg, Austria.  Sphaera, by Balkenhol. The fragility of trying to stay on top.

Compare that one-note preoccupation with status to the mind of  Liddell Hart, decades ago, that swiveled on its neck easily through traditions of warfare from early western history through the 20th Century wars. His principles apply today if only necks would turn to look. 

3.  Rethink Sanctions:

Proposal.  Stay the course. Use sanctions even more widely as a means of  affecting behavior, morale, the unbalancing. Add messaging, and wise, focused provision of appropriate arms.

Failure to apply sanctions in a timely and effective way enabled the WWII guru to succeed long enough to, and in ways that still, support the ideal memory. What? We did something wrong?



Sanctions.  Take the idea seriously. Sanctions even decades ago were seen as a careful targeted use of economic pressures to change behavior, not turning to wars as first recourse.  It must be coupled, however, with the real conundrum:   What use of targeted arms, who provides what to whom, what works in a modern age of secrets and intelligence-gathering.  What maneuvers in the shadows, strategical operations, that bear no overt resemblance to formal attack.  Dislocation.  Creating uncertainty. Aim where the enemy does not expect, the line of "least expectation," http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/126431/b-h-liddell-hart/strategy-the-indirect-approach
"In almost all the decisive campaigns the dislocation of the enemy's psychological and physical balance has been the vital prelude to a successful attempt at his overthrow."
And if behavior changes reasonably satisfactorily as a result, there is no need for overthrow. Perhaps/ Stability.

And that takes funding to get a message across, while others maneuver through a line of lesser expectation.


4.  Enough sanctions are indeed decisive actions.

What? You say even Hitler could have been stopped earlier, with sanctions firmly applied and early? Combined with careful application of arms to allies?  But they were paralyzed, you say?  How did Hitler do that? With advance work, behind the lines work, with careful and plausible propaganda, induce fear, spin, sloganeer, focus on masses not intelligentsia for the message, oppose, obstruct, duck debate, repeat.

5.  How to turn the old liners.

5.1  Opponents are wed to their past.  Rebuild the traditional army, say some.



5.2  Make him tell us his plans before he moves, and follow the direction we say.  If he is circumspect, how will we measure him?


5.3  The old guard cannot swivel, is that so? Are they tethered?  See the sugarplums of past military memory bind us now.




Get those planes in the air!


We are the guy in the white hat. Please say, we are the guy in the white hat, coming in the nick of time to WIN.



4. Conclusion so far:

We have forgotten what Mother Germany learned.


Is this determinism by neck.  Are some in leadership positions here and elsewhere are so bound by their own cultural tradition, experience and mindset, that their necks are more comfortable looking backward than forward.  Those necks no longer support a face looking to the future, nor can they swivel to look around to vet their own beliefs.  Those necks dare not reject the monetary and positional rewards that the stiff neck offers.
 
Let Hart's concepts be part of the discussion. Engaged, purposeful indirection; targeted, careful providing of selected arms, strategic maintenance of many options.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Thank Facebook: Whistleblower on Manipulated News Feeds

New Science of Ballyhoo
Slanting information is more than mood manipulation.  It is PsyOps on the home front.

1.  Facebook's manipulation of news feeds, resulting in alterations of mood, is a demonstration of established methods of persuasion, not an experiment.   2.  Facebook is a welcome whistleblower on how persuasion techniques manipulate people's mindsets.  PsyOps on the home front.  3.  Applaud Facebook and expand the discussion beyond mere marketing applications, Ballyhoo * tactics, to the sinister use of the established science of PsyOps. Focus on how institutions and industries control emotions and obstruct facts:  News industry left and right, media industry, politics industry, religion industry, marketing industry.  Watch the planned steps play out.


1. Facebook's manipulation was a demonstration, not an experiment. 

Facebook conducted a demonstration, not an experiment, on the emotional effects of slanting news feeds. Contrary to reporting, Facebook did not conduct a mere social experiment when it tallied the results:  Those targeted with negative feeds responded negatively elsewhere on related activities.  Those targeted with positive feeds, responded positively elsewhere.

Facebook instead conducted a demonstration of persuasion techniques in common use for a long time, not an experiment.  Facebook demonstrated how spin can produce a broader attitude that infuses the thinking of the target. By aiming at an emotional response rather than enabling an analytical one, persuaders rule.  Do polls also feed one way or the other? What if only one group is likely to answer the phone? See Propaganda Techniques.

2.  What other techniques work to manipulate mood, mindset.  Count the ways of spin.  Negativity as a tactic: a plan of negative action.

a) Induce a threat, survival fear, ideological loss.
b) Sloganeer (talking points) and Scapegoat somebody else for the problem.
c) Focus on the groups less likely or able to do their own research and analysis -- get the talking points out there.
d) Obstruct and Oppose facts.
e) Denigrate humanitarianism. Only wimps think of others. The tired, poor, hungry, deserve it. Do Not Debate Do Not Debate.
f) Repeat. Loud, unrelenting, interruptive, uncompromising, occupy the space.

Those have been in formula since the 1930's. See Vetting Roots: When Roots of Belief are Propaganda/
Mnemonic:  ISSFOODR. for the diet of manipulation.

3.  Where a population is targeted by Big Persuasion, do polls reflect a measured response after reasonable analysis of issues, or mere planned Reaction.  What does a national mood reflect when polled?  The persuaders and the shovelers, or have the responders vetted, analyzed on their own the facts?  Once committed emotionally, can people now solidly in the persuaders' camp, be expected to change or value facts. How to correct. Education as to techniques, tools for mental defense?

4. .  Facebook as whistleblower.  Facebook is a welcome whistleblower on uses of PsyOps at home, in politics, religion. Any institution.  Manipulating beliefs and mindset is good marketing as well as good soldiering, and has become own field of study. See http://psywarrior.com/psyhist.html/.   So: Let Facebook continue to let out, to demonstrate, that all news feeds end up manipulated, presented selectively to suit the provider's objectives. 

Let it out that people can defend if they know the techniques to watch for, the kinds of words that are inserted to alarm. And give them a place to find untainted facts.  That is the tough one. 

Q. But is it ever possible to communicate all the facts?
A. Perhaps not, in an era of sound bites.

At least, however, we can provide for a source that is untainted that can provide access and cross reference to far more on both sides. Factcheckers who have tried, however, get pre-empted by persuasion-oriented fact spinners using the same terminology.  Can a fairness doctrine in some form be put in place that meets other First Amendment interests?  The need is there, see Propaganda Steps

5.  Expand the discussion.

Facebook does not deserve outrage.  It has opened a slammed-shut door, a door to workings of psychological operations that probably some never knew was there and used to use them. 

Are people really shocked, shocked to find that their beloved information providers are merely setting a stage that suits the providers' financial or other goals, and may well be unrelated to merits or all the facts.Facebook's demonstration was indeed a success,and a service to our society. No wonder the outcry has been huge by those who fear that their persuasion ability may be limited if people know what they do, and can prepare and defend:  Persuasion by propaganda is unrelated to presenting the merits of an issue, but rather to whether the persuasion succeeded or not and who benefits (high fives at Fox, any hive of ideology).

4. Conclusion.  Media PsyOps. Advertising PsyOps.  Political sales PsyOps. Build on the military knowledge. Private sector use of sneak tactics to gather information and persuade is no different in terms of danger to a democracy, issues of the need for transparency in workings, than government action.  Snowden: The sky did not fall after you.  Facebook:  If people take these demonstrated results seriously, the sky of persuasion should fall.  Which of us is the target of the brain whisperer today?  See Neuromarketing, and Ads that Whisper to the Brain, at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/business/14stream.html?_r=0

Consider: Facebook is a welcome whistleblower for how persuasion has moved from benign marketing to sinister manipulation unawares.  Private sector advertisers and moneymakers commonly use neuroscience, and the history of persuaders and ISSFOODR techniques, to get ahead.  Facebook's demonstration of how easy it is to shape opinion apart from the merits serves to whistleblow manipulations of information feeds on topics across media, politics, religion, anyturf where one group seeks to assert control, or persuasion if you prefer, over another. Vetting Roots: When Roots of Belief are Propaganda

Private sector use of PsyOps tactics. Governmental, political, religious, use of PsyOps tactics. Successful Fox manipulates news feeds. MSNBC manipulates news feeds in response, but with more nodding to presenting the other viewpoint. Religion, politics, the marketplace. The elite who own the waves, or the written opinions.  All manipulate what the population will see and hear and before they have a chance to get all the facts on their own.



* Explore a history of hoodwink, Science of Ballyhoo, Edward Bernays' legacy. Then consider whether broad use of the historically deadly ISSFOODR variation, see above, is far more sinister and damaging to a democracy than anything Snowden revealed.